California Mudslide Claims Top $421M

Insurance Journal

Insurers have received more than 2,000 insurance claims totaling more than $421 million in losses from the deadly Montecito, Calif. mudslide that destroyed or damaged more than 400 homes and businesses and killed 21 people, the California Department of Insurance reported.

The total number of claims included more than $387 million in residential property losses, more than $27.2 million in commercial property, and roughly $2.5 million in personal and commercial auto.

“Over $421 million in insured losses represents more than property lost-behind these numbers are the tragic deaths of 21 people and thousands of residents traumatized by unfathomable loss,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said in a statement. “Recovering and rebuilding lives, homes and neighborhoods will take time-and it will be difficult.”

Jones in January issued a formal notice to all property/casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the mudslides and debris flows if it is determined that the destruction of the hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires was the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides. Jones also stated in his notice that there was substantial evidence that the fires were the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides.

The department issued a questionnaire in which all the insurers stated that they are recognizing the proximate cause doctrine. The department has not received reports of any denials of these claims due to exclusion for mudslides.

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